President’s Faith-Based Advisory Council Advocates for HTF and Housing Vouchers

The White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships released a report detailing recommendations for addressing poverty and inequality. The Council discusses how HUD programs are a proven tool for ending poverty, highlighting how these programs have reduced homelessness, lifted families out of poverty, and improved children’s educational and economic outcomes. The report includes several policy recommendations around affordable housing, including implementing small area fair market rents (SAFMRs) for Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) and ensuring the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) serves the lowest income families.

The Council commends the Obama Administration for lifting the suspension on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s obligation to set aside funds for the HTF and for issuing interim regulations for the program. The Council recommends that the interim rule be changed to allow rents in HTF-funded units to be set at 30% of the area median income (AMI) or the poverty level, whichever is lower (currently rents may be set at whichever is higher), to ensure units are affordable to extremely low income families.

Pointing to research showing improvements in education and economic outcomes for low income children who were able move to lower-poverty areas through the HCV program, the Council recommends increasing rental subsidies to low income families with children, as well as to people with disabilities and older adults. The Council suggests that HUD adopt SAFMRs to improve voucher mobility and allow more families to find housing in higher-opportunity communities. The Council also proposes that HUD pay additional administrative fees to public housing agencies (PHAs) to help families move to low-poverty areas and encourage PHAs to unify their operations to encourage voucher mobility.

To address youth homelessness, the report recommends that federal agencies consider developmentally appropriate housing models and conduct research specific to homeless youth to understand what housing models are most effective. The Council also calls on HUD and local Continuums of Care to improve the quality of and access to data on homeless youth and increase support for rigorous evaluation of programs for homeless youth.

Finally, the Council recommends that “the Administration take steps to remove lead hazards from federally-assisted housing and respond on an emergency basis to protect children when a lead hazard is identified or if anyone is poisoned in such units.” The Council proposes improving inspection standards, promoting prevention services, updating regulations related to lead poisoning, and allowing families whose children exhibit lead poisoning be allowed to move on an emergency basis to safe housing without losing their housing subsidy. 

Read the full report at: